When I was a little kid, I LOVED and I mean really really loved, eat it twice a week, two bowls at a time, Macaroni & Cheese. Now, I’m not talking about the homemade variety. I’m talking about the good old fashion, powdered cheese, Kraft variety. I could not get enough of the stuff. And if I’m being honest, I used to buy this all the time in college too 🙂
But then, I grew up. And learned to cook and realized how absolutely nasty (in theory) powdered cheese in. Sadly, in practice the stuff still tastes good…but I digress.
My mom also made mac & cheese, the homemade variety, when I was a little kid. I hated it. It was grainy and I thought that was simply disgusting. Blech. Sorry mom. I love you!!
Here’s the thing about creamy M&C, most CREAMY M&C recipes have Velveeta in them… not much better (health/whole food-wise) than the powdery alternative.
Enter this recipe.
Here’s my combined version
- 1 medium butternut squash (when baked, yield 1-2 c. squash)
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp butter + 2 tsp butter
- 1 lb package pasta noodles
- 1/2 can (6oz) evaporated milk (I used the full-fat kind, save the other 1/2 can)
- 1 package of cream cheese (8oz) (I used full fat)
- 2 tsp hot sauce
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp salt (to taste)
- 8-10 oz cheddar cheese (I shredded it myself to make sure it was creamy!)
- 8 pieces bacon, cooked & crumbled
- 2 large apples (honey crisp or other crunchy semi-sweet variety), diced
For squash: Cut in half, scrap out the seeds & pulp. Put 1 tsp of butter in the hollowed out place on each side. Bake, covered, at 400 for approx 40-50 min until fork tender. This time could vary dramatically based on the size of your squash. Just keep checking it.
For onion: slice and caramelize over low heat in a pan with 2 Tbsp butter. This will take 20-30 minutes.
For the sauce: in a food processor, combine the squash pulp (I pulsed this alone a few times to really break it up), 1/2 can evaporated milk, hot sauce, salt, & cream cheese. Blend until fully incorporated. Add in 2 eggs. Pulse till just mixed.
To combine: Boil pasta till al dente. Drain & put back in the sauce pan off the heat. Then add in the sauce. Stirring constantly to combine so as not to scramble eggs. Then immediately stir in shredded cheddar cheese and turn the heat on the stove to low/med. Stir continously for approx 3 min until the cheese is melted and the sauce thickens slightly.
To serve: Top with cooked, crumbled bacon & apples.
I left the bacon & apples out of the “big dish” so that the leftovers would be fresh & amazing. They were. Also, this is totally kid approved (well, minus the onions but Pax just picked around those!) 🙂